Published on February 1, 2022 by

THUNDER BAY – A point-in-time count of those experiencing homelessness in Thunder Bay offers valuable insight, despite lower-than-usual participation, organizers say.

The results of the 2021 count, led by the Thunder Bay District Social Services Administration Board (TBDSSAB) and Lakehead Social Planning Council (LSPC), were officially released this week.

The count returned 221 valid surveys across the Thunder Bay District, compared to 474 in 2018, and 289 in 2016.

That doesn’t reflect a drop in the local homeless population, the DSSAB emphasized, saying the lower number was partly influenced by the pandemic. CAO Bill Bradica said the survey also came at a moment of increased stigma against the homeless in Thunder Bay.

A new by-name list started by the DSSAB last year, which has so far registered 693 people, provides “a much more accurate indicator of the number of people experiencing homelessness” in the district.

The point-in-time count was administered on Oct. 2 by about 100 volunteers at 11 locations across the district over 24 hours.

The Canadian Lakehead Exhibition (CLE) was the only public drop-in site due to COVID-19, while clients at shelters, transitional housing locations, and elsewhere were invited to participate, and received a small honourarium.

Bradica said people were more hesitant than usual to respond. He attributed that to negative public attention to homelessness, particularly a high-profile conflict over the use of an abandoned gas bar for shelter at a local mall.

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